Have no idea what you’re doing with your life? Me either!
My Quarter Life Crisis is Happening
Growing up freakin’ sucks.
At the end of September, I participated in a panel (with six other young adults) speaking to a group of under-motivated high school students wanting to know why it is important to finish school and what it’s like growing up. I told them, “Adulting is like getting everything you ever wanted as a kid from Santa Clause, but then, he also brings you a sack full of things you didn’t ask for and you have no idea what to do with.” The kids didn’t enjoy my joke as much as the rest of my peers and the teacher, but I couldn’t come up with a more accurate analogy.
When you imagine graduating high school, graduating college, or even life after college, your mind paints this image of immediate success. You move from one goal to another, and you feel on top of the world. You feel like you can accomplish anything. However in reality, you quickly realize things don’t always happen the way or at the speed you expected.
I don’t cry in front of people. (It’s just not how I am.) Yet later during the panel, the teacher asked a question about my parents, and as I got into my response, my voice suddenly cracked, my chin quivered, and the tears welled up in my eyes. Up until that point, I remained composed whenever people asked about my parents. Two years ago, they moved 10 hours away from my sister and me (both in college), and of course I miss them, but it wasn’t until someone asked me about them in the context of growing up that it really hit me hard.
I’m 22 years old. I’m an “adult”. I should have my life together, but there I was, in front of friends and strangers, crying about my parents… What the heck is wrong with me?
Since that moment, sitting as the fractured, emotional mess I never knew I was, I started thinking about where I am in life, and I questioned everything happening around me. My thoughts flooded with so many questions, it made my head spin.
Am I making the right decisions with my life currently and for the future?
Am I satisfied with where I am and where I’m going?
Am I happy with my relationships?
Am I living up to my full potential?
And as my stream of consciousness progressed, I quickly discovered I have not a single clue what I’m doing with my life.
All these questions and I had no answers. I broke down.
As I wrote this, I’m still so certain about being uncertain, it ties my stomach in knots, and my heart is heavy. I have so many things to do and choices to make, I have so much expected of me, and I’m unsure about it all.
I miss seeing my family every day. I miss seeing my friends every day. I miss the routine and the feeling of achievement from school. I feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty. I feel isolated because talking about it all only brings judgement, bias, burden, or pity.
I feel like I’m in the middle of the path life has for me, but I’m standing completely still, and I have no idea which way life wants me to go. It’s scary, it’s frustrating, and it’s really lonely when it seems like everyone else is moving forward. Even after I speak or after I pray, a weight still sits heavy on my chest. I don’t know whether to have a whole bottle of wine, a whole gallon of ice cream, or a whole box of tissues.
How do I keep from completely losing my mind?
I finally spilled everything to my friend, and she told me, “At the end of the day, you walk the path alone, and yet, you are surrounded. You are guided and protected, and everything is all laid out for you. In the moment, we may face the greatest challenges and struggles we can imagine, but life can’t give you anything you can’t make it through. Sometimes, you must fall down a hill to get to the top of the next one, but that failure and those struggles end up being the best rewards, lessons, and triumphs possible.”
I responded, “I know you’re right, but it’s not helping me feel much better at the moment.”
I calmed down since the conversation with my friend, but those feelings still linger in my spirit. Feeling like your goals are unobtainable and true happiness isn’t possible is not uncommon. It may seem like a dark cloud constantly hovering over your head, but I realize now you never know when the sunshine will break through (if only a single beam of light at a time).
Just know in your darkest moments of uncertainty, when you panic and you feel like you hit rock bottom, a plan still exists for your life. The only person stopping you is you. During the race of living, life puts hurdles in front of you, but only you can jump those hurdles and sprint to the finish in all its glory.
However, it’s still okay not to be okay. It’s okay to cry or scream or lock yourself away for a moment. Times get tough (and growing up sucks), but take a deep breath. Life put our blinders on, but a light still shines bright at the end of the tunnel.
We will make it through because we can do anything. Give it time.
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